I miss You Forgot the Birds – remember them? They were set up by grouse shooters, notably old Harrovian city trader Crispin Odey (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), to have a go at the RSPB because the RSPB was occasionally mentioning the problems associated with driven grouse shooting. At least you knew where you were with YFTB, the PR expert they hired, Ian Gregory, has been perfectly open about the fact that he was hired to damage the RSPB by people who didn’t like them (maybe feared them)( see here and here).
And yes, the moribund YFTB website still has a cracking image of a male Montagu’s Harrier and what looks like a Northern Harrier on its Hen Harrier page – knowledge of birds has never been a strong point amongst grouse shooters.
The new kid on the block (as mentioned by me here) is the Campaign for Protection of Moorland Communities (C4PMC). They are the ones who tried to make out that Stephen Moss thought that all birds of prey are doing well in Britain to which Stephen responded ‘I’m incensed that the shooting lobby have twisted my words‘.
The C4PMC are about as accurate on birds, actually on life in general it seems to me, as YFTB ever were – do you think they might be related?
Their latest thing is this:
Well, the striking thing about this headline is that the RSPB does not have a reserve in Bowland so it will be quite difficult to locate this ex-nest, even though C4PMC claim that this happened on the RSPB’s ‘flagship reserve’. Not just any old non-existent nature reserve but a non-existent flagship nature reserve!
The report is worth a read as an amusing start to your day. Seven recently-fledged chicks were predated by a fox apparently – recently fledged? Are you sure it wasn’t by a flying fox then? I understand that a Hen Harrier nest was predated recently in Bowland, probably by a fox.
Apparently birds of prey ‘in fact die overwhelmingly of predation and other causes’ – well that has to be true. People die overwhelmingly of cyanide poisoning and other causes, it’s just that the other causes add up to almost 100% of deaths. Of course birds of prey are predated, and Hen Harriers, being ground nesters are susceptible to predation rather more than cliff-nesting species, that’s certainly true. Yep, in nature animals get eaten by other animals, it happens in my garden all the time – all those caterpillars that those vicious Blue Tits fed to their young before they fledged from our garden nest box!
It’s clear that C4PMC don’t like the RSPB and are very worried about foxes, but if this nest wasn’t located on an RSPB flagship nature reserve where was it? It was located on an area, I am told, which has a gamekeeper. In fact this will be one of the nests that Amanda Anderson said last week was one of the ‘record-breaking’ 12 nests on grouse moors this year. It seems as if there is a simple rule here, while a Hen Harrier nest is successful Amanda and the Moorland Association claim it as a grouse moor nest but if it fails for any reason then C4PMC claim it as an RSPB nest. And Natural England play their part by not disclosing failed Hen Harrier nests on grouse moors too.
C4PMC claim that grouse moors are good and that the RSPB is bad on the basis of a failed nest on a keepered moor not owned or managed by the RSPB?
We shouldn’t expect the grouse moor industry to be consistent – they probably don’t care that C4PMC contradicts the Moorland Association. Amanda can get headlines saying one thing and then C4PMC can snipe at the RSPB using ‘reports’ that contradict the Moorland Association line but who cares? The press don’t look into the facts of these matters and our statutory agency, Natural England, has its own long track record of secrecy and lack of clarity and openness on Hen Harrier matters. The public? Well, they won’t care about the details and might well throw up their hands and say ‘Some people say one thing, others say another. I don’t know what’s happening‘.
But this blog will keep picking away at the distortions of the truth on this subject.
But C4PMC have a more amusing though no more accurate side to them. While having a go at me a while ago they said I lived in a swanky house! You could hear the guffaws from our red-brick late-Victorian semi all along the street after that.